Uwharrie National Forest

One destination for CORE that always seems to be a hit is the Uwharrie National Forest at Troy NC. It’s very different from most of the other National Forests in that there are 16 miles of dedicated OHV trails of varying difficulty. Most of the other National Forests, while having roads, are geared more towards access by hunters and fishermen and so have very little challenging for the 4 wheel drive enthusiast.

Uwharrie also has recently done some work with renewing/rebuilding the campground amenities, including the bath houses and toilet facilities. Especially for a publicly-owned campground, the facilities are top notch.

Paul did just fine but the long wheelbase of the Colorado combined with very limited ground clearance reminded us of more geometry lessons.

Along for the trip were the following individuals:

  • Bob Weaver, CORE President in the Lifted Rubicon
  • Paul LePine, CORE Member in the Wrangler Unlimited
  • Keith Holman, CORE member in Colorado

As it turns out, we spent a fair amount of our weekend demonstrating some unrelenting principles of geometry and physics! Our first lesson in geometry came on Friday when Bob tried to put the motor home on the campsite I had reserved. Not being very knowledgeable on the specifics of motor homes, I had chosen one of the pull through sites thinking it would be easy to set the motor home, park the Little Guy and still have room for Paul’s tent. What I didn’t know and take into consideration was that the drive through site was not really level over a long distance. I had used that site before for the Little Guy which has only three contact points and an almost infinite ability to turn on a site but the motor home needs to be relatively level side to side while still in line with the driveway and then needs to also be level over the length of the wheelbase. This isn’t going to work. Luckily, there was another level site available where our favorite campground host could move Bob.

Paul was feeling a bit under the weather and opted to stay in a motel near Greensboro where the climate was more conducive to recovery. So I was on the drive through site, Paul was in Greensboro and Bob was on the “other” host site near the Arrowhead campground entrance. We also got a treat Friday when we got to see Kevin and Janet’s new home in the campground! It’s not quite the Taj Mahal but it’s pretty darn close. To say the least, we are very happy for our friends.

We agreed to meet on Saturday morning at the Outpost where passes could be purchased to ride the ORV trails. While we were there, we also had breakfast and made our plans for the day. After all was in order, we aired down and took off for the trails. We planned to start on the easier trails and work our way up with the intention of trying to cover as many of the trails as possible over our long weekend.

On Saturday, we went onto the trails at Wolf’s Den and took the Falls Dam trail which leads around to the Art Lilley campground. The new campground is a primitive site which allows riders to camp on the trail system and avoid having to load ATVs and unregistered vehicles to get from campsites to trails. This was Paul’s first time at Uwharrie and my first time with the Colorado. Paul did just fine but the long wheelbase of the Colorado combined with very limited ground clearance reminded us of more geometry lessons.

The trails at Uwharrie are groomed each spring before opening and that grooming includes the making/refreshing of water bars. A water bar is like a giant speed bump and is used primarily to slow and divert the rain runoff coming downhill on the trails. This cuts down on the erosion. Various dozer operators will make the water bars more or less steep each year and it’s seemingly random. Sometimes they are a slope up with a gentle roll to the other side. Sometimes they are sharper like an inverted V, when viewed from the side. This year, they are more of the inverted V and it makes it tricky at best, and often impossible, to get a crewcab Colorado across. Bob and Paul graciously pulled me back off multiple times.

By the time we got ready to run Rocky Mountain Loop, it was clear that we would spend much of our ride pulling me off the bars and maybe unable to get past them at all so I elected to ride with Paul and park the Colorado at the double parking lot.

We went in so that we came upon the rocky stretch at Kodak from the top. We watched for a while and noted the changes from past years. What was once the bypass to the left going up now appeared to be one of the more difficult lines up the hill. We decided to ride down but there was another group ahead of us so we decided to go down most of the way and then take a detour to the new “official” bypass. A little spotting was all that was needed for both Bob and Paul.

After we got back to double parking lot, we decided to break for lunch and headed back to Arrowhead. After lunch, all three of us took our turns at Slab Pile. The two Jeeps did well but the Colorado was still having issues with high-centering. We decided to call it a day. Paul headed back to the motel with plans to meet us on Sunday while Bob and I went back to the campground.

Sunday morning found Bob and I waiting for Paul longer than we expected. Although several hours passed (with the help of some good conversation), we were ultimately reminded of the law of physics that prevents one from being in two divergent places at the same time. Paul was called home to attend to a pressing matter with the family dog but was unable to reach us via cell phone because of spotty coverage. Bob and I spent a few hours on the trails by ourselves.

We did a little exploring, going out to the Deep Water Horse Camp to check out some yet unexplored (by us) territory. We then went back to the convergence of the Falls Dam, Dickey Bell and Green Gap Road for a short section of tight and technical trail and then decided to go take a look at Daniel. We proceeded along until we got to the ledge below the big hill. It had become more difficult since last time we had been there. Its height was such that the Colorado didn’t have a chance. We mulled the possibility of taking Bob’s Rubicon up (and calculated that it was probably do-able) but decided against it considering the lateness of the hour. We’ll save that one for another day.

All in all, it was a good trip even though we didn’t get to achieve our initial goal of running everything. I left for home on Monday morning while Bob was going to hang around and get the motor home serviced then head down to Myrtle Beach for some time with his camping club.

Next year, Uwharrie will get moved up a bit on our schedule with an earlier trip for sure. It still remains one of our favorite places to ride. It makes all the difference in the world when you’re riding in a place where our sport is welcomed instead of just tolerated.

Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman, and Bob Weaver Tompkins.

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